In a clear break from former president George Bush's two national security strategies issued in 2002 and 2006 which endorsed unilateral military action and spoke of the threat posed by "Islamic extremism," President Obama has unveiled a new national security strategy which calls for more global engagement and aims to downplay fears that the U.S. is "at war" with Islam.
President Obama also expressed his desire to break away from the unilateral military approach of "either you are with us or against us" established in the wake of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.
"While the use of force is sometimes necessary, we will exhaust other options before war whenever we can and carefully weigh the costs and risks of action against the costs and risks of inaction," President Obama said.
Not since Mr. Obama addressed the Arab and Muslim worlds from a podium at Cairo University on June 4, 2009, pledging "to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims," did the U.S. president send a clear and powerful message that America's foreign policy towards 1.5 billion Muslims across the globe has changed.
The 52-page document, entitled National Security Strategy, distanced the administration of President Barack Obama from the Bush-era doctrine of preemptive war and emphasized global cooperation and robust diplomacy to make the use of military force less likely to be updated every four years. The document omitted some of the most controversial language from the Bush administration, like the phrase "global war on terror" and references to "Islamic extremism".
"Yet this is not a global war against a tactic - terrorism, or a religion - Islam. We are at war with a specific network, al-Qaeda, and its terrorist affiliates."
Earlier on Saturday, the President, while offering a glimpse of his new national security doctrine to the West Point 2010 Cadets, reiterated his administration's position towards Islam and that of the actions of extremists and terrorists.
"Extremists want a war between America and Islam, but Muslims are part of our national life, including those who serve in our United States Army. Adversaries want to divide us, but we are united by our support for you soldiers, who send a clear message that this country is both the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Obama's National Security Strategy has been read carefully across the globe, and he has been widely credited with improving the tone of U.S. foreign policy towards the Arab and Muslim worlds. However, with unfinished wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nuclear standoff with Iran, and no progress on peace between Palestinians and Israelis, his words remain just words. We understand that the war on Islam is over, but war should end in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine as well.